High Life Highland really did live the high life last week when they joined Ocean Youth Trust Scotland for a fun five days away at sea on the 70 foot yacht, Alba Venturer! The group of ten young people, along with their two group leaders, spent their days working together to sail the yacht as well as cook for each other and live in very close quarters.
Continuing the Scottish weather tradition, the young crew encountered all four seasons while on board – sailing through wind, rain but also enjoying clear skies and sunshine. Clocking up a total of 83 nautical miles, the crew visited Ardtornish Bay, Loch Drambuie, Tobermory and the beautiful Calgary Bay on Mull before returning to Oban to complete their voyage. One Highland person summed up the whole adventure – declaring “It was the best week of my life!”
In amongst their busy watches on deck where the crew had to hoist and drop sails, steer the boat, work the winches and tie knots, all the young people found time to work towards gaining their Royal Yachting Association’s Start Yachting Level 1 Award, and took the opportunity to complete 9 SQA qualifications in: listening, reading, speaking, writing, measuring, calculation, using graphical information, problem solving and working with others. It was definitely a hectic week! One young person stated “I learned how to work as a team and to stay strong and confident”, whilst another thought the group gained “responsibility and independence”.
The group of young people were delighted when they took a trip onshore at Loch Drambuie. A mighty shot put competition took place upon the beach much to the enjoyment of everyone involved. Another highlight for certain crew members was the short trip to Tobermory, where hot showers were available. The voyage definitely made the young people appreciate their home comforts, however they did unanimously agree that “We want to do it all again!”
Group leader Cara Cameron commented “For me, I am amazed at the transformation in the young people. They arrived very quiet and looking anxious but left with heads high and great big smiles and just full of confidence. A parent spoke with me afterwards and commented they thought I had returned the wrong person home as he was normally very quiet and never spoke about things but they could not get him to be quiet the whole weekend after the voyage. ”
High Life Highland is a charity registered in Scotland, formed in October 2011 by The Highland Council to develop and promote opportunities in culture, learning, sport, leisure, health and wellbeing across 9 services throughout the whole of the Highlands, for both residents and visitors. This is the first of two voyages that High Life Highlands will be undertaking with OYT Scotland as part of the “On Course with CashBack” project.
OYT Scotland’s “On Course with CashBack” project is transforming 288 young people’s lives over three years thanks to an award from the “CashBack for Communities” scheme – the Scottish Government’s proceeds of crime fund. Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson said: “Through CashBack we are supporting many of Scotland’s most disadvantaged young people to reach their full potential in life, helping them to learn new skills, boost their confidence and develop as responsible citizens.”
Nick Fleming, Chief Executive of OYT Scotland added: “We are excited to have young people from High Life Highland as part of the On Course with CashBack programme. OYT Scotland voyages offer young people a life changing opportunity, giving them a chance to take part in teamwork and leadership roles. These are transferable skills that can be used in other areas of their lives. This programme aims to develop young people and the group taking part in this voyage have demonstrated that it has been a success. Our highly trained sea-staff (both professionals and volunteers) are able to get the best from each individual. The combination of engaged group leaders and focused sea-staff means that these young people can reach goals that they never thought possible, and this can give them a whole new outlook on life”
Over the past 18 years, OYT Scotland has grown to become one of the leading sail training charities in the world. With two sail training vessels, Alba Explorer and Alba Venturer, OYT Scotland completed 55 voyages with 552 young people in 2016. The young people of High Life Highland thought it was a “Wonderful experience to take in and enjoy” and a “Once in a life time opportunity”. Well done to everyone involved!
For more information about OYT Scotland go to www.oytscotland.org.uk/main-site/
For more information on High Life Highland go to www.highlifehighland.com
For more information on the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities scheme go to www.cashbackforcommunities.org